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Foreign policy focus on Jakarta

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants Australia’s foreign policy to have a “Jakarta” focus rather than a “Geneva” one.

Mr Abbott leaves for Jakarta on Sunday to attend the presidential inauguration of Joko Widodo, using his weekly message to plug Australia’s relationship with the “hugely important neighbour”.

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However, despite Indonesia’s population hovering around 250 million, Australia’s two-way trade is $15 billion – less than the two-way trade with the much smaller New Zealand.

“This is why I have often said that our foreign policy needs a Jakarta focus rather than a Geneva one,” he says.

The trip is the prime minister’s fourth to Indonesia.

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Mr Abbott is optimistic about the election of Mr Joko, who he says takes office “with enormous goodwill”.

Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has been fragile over the past year, after a spying scandal and navy incursions into Indonesian waters strained the friendship.

The revelation that Australia had spied on outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle suspended the usual high-level co-operation between the two countries.

Mr Joko warned the Australian government on Sunday it’s unacceptable for the Australian navy to enter Indonesian waters uninvited while turning back asylum seeker boats.

“We will give a warning that this is not acceptable,” he said.

“We have international law. You must respect international law.”

The former Jakarta governor also outlined plans to strengthen ties, including boosting military and intelligence links.